BROOKVILLE — Three games in as many days with a 2-1 record. Considering how last week’s busy stretch started, the Brookville Raiders baseball team will take it.
That’s how Raiders head coach Nathan Bonfardine was looking at it following last Thursday’s 8-3 win over DuBois Central Catholic at McKinley Field.
The win hiked their record to 4-3 going into this week. Monday’s home game with Johnsonburg was moved to next Monday with a 3 p.m. start prior to a junior varsity game that follows. Wednesday, the Raiders host DuBois if field conditions were good enough. The game could be moved to Thursday.
Last Wednesday, the Raiders edged St. Marys 8-7 on the road, which came after last Tuesday’s 22-12 loss at Clearfield.
“Tuesday was rough,” Raiders head coach Nathan Bonfardine said. “We hit the ball and that’s what generated our bats the last two games, too. Clearfield is a good ballclub and they tacked one on us pretty good and we had six errors … We’ve been tearing the cover off the ball the past three games and hopefully that carries into next week.
Park’s five-inning outing keyed the Raiders as he struck out eight and scattered five hits with no walks. The lone run he gave up was unearned after two infield errors in the first inning led to Brandon Walker scoring.
Jace Miner threw the final two innings to close things out.
“Aaron threw great and hat’s off to Jace to come in and finish it out,” Bonfardine said.
The Raiders took the lead for good with two runs in the second inning. Hunter Roney and Brady Caylor walked to start the inning off Cardinals freshman starter Cole Sansom. Tanner LaBenne bunted them both up 90 feet and back-to-back singles by Chase Palmer and Cole LaBenne drove Roney and Caylor home.
In the fourth, the Raiders sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs, three of them off Sansom. Tanner LaBenne reached on a bad-hop single past second baseman Damon Foster, Palmer walked and Cole LaBenne singled in Tanner LaBenne. After Dane Lyle flew out, Sansom walked Seth Dunkle to load the bases and left the mound in favor of Dom Torretti.
Sansom gave up five hits and walked five while striking out three in 3 1/3 innings with two of his five runs surrendered going unearned.
The Raiders pushed home three more runs after Torretti entered the game. Jace Miner reached on a bases-loaded infield error, Cole LaBenne scored on Park’s forceout and after a walk to Roney, Caylor’s bases-loaded walk pushed home Miner.
Two more Cardinals errors in the fifth after two outs allowed the Raiders to score their final two runs. Cole LaBenne was hit by a pitch with one out, Lyle walked and after a Dunkle flyout, Miner and Park reached on errors.
The Raiders and Cardinals each had six hits, but Bonfardine liked his team’s approach at the plate, drawing eight walks and forcing Central to make the plays defensive, which it didn’t as five of the eight Raiders runs were unearned.
“We had quality at bats and put the ball in play and made them earn the out,” Bonfardine said. “That’s been one of our things we’ve talked about, being aggressive but selective. I’m excited what happened this week.”
While Torretti was helping the Cardinals pitching staff get through the week by throwing the final 3 2/3 innings in relief of Sansom, he also drove in the team’s other two runs with a two-run homer over the left-field fence with one out in the top of the sixth.
In last week’s game at St. Marys:
WEDNESDAY, April 10
St. Marys 7
At Berwind Park in a game that was dominated by hitting in the early going, pitching took over in the late innings as Brookville held on for the one-run win to end a three-game losing streak.
With the potential tying run on second and game-winning runner on second in the bottom of the seventh, Raiders reliever Seth Dunkle got Connor Bressler to hit a deep flyout down the left-field line to secure the win.
Dunkle and Bressler each had strong performances in relief to give their teams a chance to win the game down the stretch, as both pitchers went 3 2/3 innings on the mound.
Dunkle came in to relieve Brookville starter Dane Lyle with one-out and two runners on in the bottom of the fourth and retired the next two batters on a flyout and a strikeout to preserve a 7-6 lead.
The reliever continued to shut down St. Marys over the final three innings, as he finished with one hit allowed and one unearned run while walking two and striking out one to help Brookville secure the win.
“Hat’s off to Dane (Lyle) this was his first start and first appearance of the year and he was lights out for the longest time,” Brookville head coach Nathan Bonfardine said. “I’m just happy with our overall performance and we’ve been tearing the cover off the baseball lately.”
While both relievers controlled the game down the stretch, the early innings had a much different feel, as it didn’t take long for either team’s bats to heat up on the chilly afternoon.
Dunkle led things off in the top of the first for Brookville with a single to right-center, before eventually reaching third on a steal and a wild pitch.
Looking to score the game’s first run, Dunkle was caught too far off third by St. Marys catcher Jake Meeker, who fired to Shane Price at third for the out.
Jace Miner drew a walk in the inning and was able to give the Raiders the early lead after coming in to score on an error.
The Raiders went up 5-1 with four runs in the top of the second. Dunkle got things started with a single to left to bring home Chase Palmer for the go-ahead run.
Miner followed with a single up the middle to load the bases, before Aaron Park cleared them with a double to deep left-center field to score courtesy runner Adam Mackins as well as Dunkle and Miner.
“Just having situational hitting and being able to put the ball in play with two outs and making them earn the out,” Bonfardine said. “Good things happen whenever you put the ball in play.”
The Dutch, who scored in five of their seven at-bats, scored twice in the third to get within 5-4. But the Raiders responded right away in the top of the fourth with a pair of runs to push its lead back to three, as Miner led off with a double to left-center and scored when Park followed with a double to right field.
The back-to-back doubles came on the heels of a diving catch by Sicheri in center field off the bat of Dunkle, as the center fielder had a handful of web gems for the Dutch.
“Having the ambition to go up each and every pitch and saying ‘this could be my pitch to hit’ and I think that has helped out in the long run,” Bonfardine said. Hats off to (Sicheri) out in center field, he was tracking the ball like no other today and covered a lot of ground and he’s a heck of a ball player.”
Hunter Roney then hit a single back up the middle to give the Raiders runners on the corners with one away.
Brookville then executed a double steal, as Roney broke for second, where he was thrown out by Meeker, but Park took off for home as soon as the catcher made the throw and was able to score to push the lead to 7-4.
St. Marys knocked Lyle, who was making his season debut, out of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Dunkle stranded two runners, getting the final two outs and helping the Raiders hold on to their lead.
Dunkle also helped himself out in the fifth, singling down the line in left field to score Palmer, who had reached on a walk earlier in the inning, for another two-out RBI for Brookville.
The Dutch’s lone run in the final three innings came in the sixth, when Sicheri led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and reached third on an error on an attempted pick off by Dunkle.
Beimel then delivered his second sacrifice fly of the game to drive in the run and trim the deficit back to one run at 8-7.
Dunkle looked to make quick work of the Dutch in the bottom of the seventh, as he forced the first hitter to ground out to short.
Bellina then hit a sharp grounder to Tanner LaBenne, who fielded the grounder and looked to flip to Dunkle at first, but the ball popped out of the pitcher’s glove allowing Bellina to reach safely
After forcing the next batter to fly out to second, Greg Tettis reached on a walk, as both runners would then advance on a wild pitch, putting the tying run on third and the winning run on second.
Dunkle then won the battle between the two relief pitchers, forcing Bressler to hit a deep fly out down the line in left to secure the road win for the Raiders.